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Loeb: I knew it was over when I had puncture

Multiple World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb had to settle for the runners-up spot on the Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend after being outclassed by championship rival Mikko Hirvonen.

Loeb initially took the lead on the ninth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship, when he set the pace on Thursday in the short Killeri super special, which as normal opened proceedings on the 1000 Lakes.

However he dropped down to second in the first 'proper' test on Friday and while he kept right up with Hirvonen on day 1, finishing it only 3.3 seconds adrift, he was unable to do the same on Saturday.

Indeed he was powerless to stop the local star from extending the gap and trailed him in SS11, SS12, SS13 and SS14, with the margin up to 12.5 seconds heading into what would be the decisive repeat run through Himos 2.

Loeb picked up a puncture there and that saw him drop an additional 13.5 seconds and effectively ended his bid to win in Jyväskylä for the second year in a row.

After that he settled for second and eventually brought his Citroen C4 WRC car to the finish on Sunday 25.1 seconds adrift of P1.

"It had been one hell of a battle with Mikko, but when I had my puncture I knew it was over," Loeb reflected. "I would have preferred to have won, but there was little I could do about the result this weekend.

"Mikko put in a flawless run on his home event after being on the limit from start to finish. We've dropped another two points in the title chase, so it looks like it's going to be a close-run thing to the end. But we have got another eight championship points so that is still good for us."

Asked about that incident on day two in SS15, Loeb reiterated that it was the key to his downfall, although he added that even without it, it would still have been difficult to beat Hirvonen.




Related Pictures

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Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën C4, Citroën Total World Rally Team
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